Harriet Dyer: How not to go crazy at the Edinburgh Fringe
During everyday life I’m usually teetering into the realms of insanity so when it comes to the Fringe… Holy moly, that train is pulling into Crazy Town and it’s a one-way ticket.
Walking through Edinburgh at the height of the festival is like walking through a post apocalyptic war scene in terms of all the comedian casualties left right and centre (okay that might be slightly dramatic) although every year I’m surprised at people I thought were the most together often breaking down due to the nature of The Fringe. The gentle petals don’t stand a chance.
There are definitely ways to avoid this, whether or not I end up following my own advice is a different story. I always arrive with the best of intentions.
I’d say the biggest culprit for comedians hitting the wall is the ol’ boozeroo. I love a tipple like the next goose but it’s important to remember that it’s essentially business and whichever way you want to dress it up, if you’re of a dishevelled hungover nature, there is no way you’d be as on your game as you’d be if you weren’t.
And if you’re as merry as Christmas every night for best part of a month it’s not very good for your health and you may start to look a little bit yellow.
Also, surely the more inebriated you are the less in control you become. The festival is full of industry folk so I imagine if you’re serious it does no favours to be seen at 2am naked and chasing a dog down the Royal Mile.
Be sure to keep yourself hydrated and eat well too. I got in the habit of only eating battered food as it was all that was open after I finished my last show one year. Half way in I felt like an actual physical sloth.
This year I’m going to be super geeky and have porridge and blueberries for breakfast each morning to try start off the days on the right foot. I bloody love blueberries.
It’s really important to have a day off. For the last two years I didn’t have one, my last show every day would end at around 1:15am and I LOST THE WILL TO LIVE. I guess it didn’t help that I had to act as half comedian half bouncer too as it’d get rowdy magoo most nights.
Many comics still gig on their day off but I’m going to aim to avoid this and get out of the festival melee altogether. If you had a day off from an office job you wouldn’t wander into the office on your day off would you? I think I’ll go to the beach. There’s nothing like the sea air to calm your cockles.
Having said this, I do believe it’s so important to watch as much comedy as possible. Having numerous splendid comedians in one city doesn’t happen very often so make the most of it. I haven’t made the most of it in the past. I definitely will this year. Surely only good can come from being inspired?
I’m also going to watch some theatre this year too, have got my eye on Godspell as the songs are ace. I was in the musical at college and was cast as a ruddy sheep.
Even though you won’t be spending much time in wherever you’re staying, make sure you’re not living with a bunch of dunderheads. The Fringe really tests friendships. I’ve wanted to strangle even the best of pals and I’m sure the feeling was mutual.
Our flat last year didn’t have any windows, a crazed angry cat on the loose, a massive cockroach and two sinks next to each other that when you washed up in one all the filth came up through the other. This did not help with sanity levels.
Sort out your accommodation way in advance; I’m a secretly organised cavorter and get mine sorted before Christmas each year. I have to in order to allow for things to go wrong as that is the nature of a somewhat palaversome life.
It makes me feel nervous when people haven’t sorted their accommodation out and there’s just weeks to go. My pal Masai Graham once sorted his accommodation out on the train on the way to the festival. What a maverick.
Just because you’ve done all your previews before you get to the festival doesn’t mean that the work is over. I’ve been previewing this show since just after last year’s Fringe but still aim to record and work on my show every day, as I want it to keep evolving throughout. And that should hopefully translate into good reviews which are also a mass cause of Fringe crazy for folk.
A lot of comics choose not to read their reviews but I’m too nosy so I will. Plus I want to know the reason if people start looking at me with sad eyes.
Just don’t be an idiot, maaaaaaaaan.
Harriet Dyer: Barking At Aeroplanes, Bar 50, Edinburgh, 31 July – 24 August, FREE, freefestival.co.uk